Former Pinkerton girls lacrosse standout Avery Drouin no longer has to worry about the dangers of cold weather during the lacrosse season.
Drouin, who plays at Coastal Carolina, recently recalled a conversation she had with former Astros teammate Dani Tompkins, an attacker at Southern New Hampshire.
Tompkins shared that her pants caught on fire when she stood too close to a heater at practice.
“We don’t have any heaters down south,” Drouin said. “I don’t have to worry about that.”
Warm weather is just one of the allures of southern life, something that has clearly struck a chord with the talent coming out of the Pinkerton lacrosse program.
Drouin and seven other Pinkerton players, past and present, either play at or are committed to play at a school in North or South Carolina. The next Astro to make the jump, Kiley Davis, will join Drouin at Coastal, and is thrilled by the southern movement among her teammates.
“It’s really cool because it just shows that people are looking in other areas and not just close to home,” Davis said. “I think it’s just cool to know that people are willing to go farther away so they have a chance to mix in a new culture.”
After Rob Daziel took over the program as head coach in 2012, the move south began, starting with his daughter Riann.
Riann Daziel (Class of 2012) headed to Mount Olive University (North Carolina). Then Ali Davis (PA, ‘16), Kiley’s older sister, went to Coastal Carolina (South Carolina) before deciding to transfer to Mount Olive ahead of the coming school year.
Nola Wesche (‘16) also ended up at Mount Olive. Drouin (‘17) started at Quinnipiac before switching to Coastal, where she’ll be joined by Kiley Davis this year.
Meaghan Michaud was the Conference Carolinas Freshman of the Year at Mount Olive this spring, and she’ll be joined by Zoe Howe, who will finish her Pinkerton career next spring. Daziel’s daughter Madison, also a rising senior at Pinkerton, will play at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C.
One common notion among the Davis sisters and Drouin was that exploring options, even if it means going far from home, was beneficial in the long run.
“I think it’s definitely important when you’re going through the college process to explore options and go out of your comfort zone,” Ali Davis said. “That definitely helped me meet new people and grow as a person on a lot of different levels.”
When Drouin was a junior at Pinkerton, she had planned visits to southern schools, but said her family got cold feet, and decided against the trip. She ended up at Quinnipiac, but not long into her time there, she knew where she really wanted to be.
“I think I was too young to make a decision, which is what stinks about the way recruiting is,” Drouin said. “But I’m glad I ended up at Coastal.”
Absorbing the culture
“Culture” seems to be the buzzword among the former Astros who have decided to play lacrosse down south.
Whether that has to do with attending sporting events, going to the beach or eating the region’s delicious food, it plays a huge role in drawing players from New England down there.
“Everyone down here I’ve met and interacted with is very friendly, very welcoming and open,” Ali Davis said. “It’s just a really good environment.”
But it’s not all about the year-round sunshine, great cooking or whatever other added bonuses the imported southerners can think of. The culture within the team they join is of great importance, too.
Drouin and Kiley Davis both noted there are New Englanders, as well as people from loads of other places, involved with the Coastal program. As evidenced by the number of Pinkerton players at Mount Olive, it’s a similar situation there.
With the Daziel and Davis siblings all heading down, plus the Pinkerton connections all around, there’s no shortage of advice for current Astros who might want to play their college ball in the Carolinas, too.
There’s some word of mouth going around, but it’s not an active effort to recruit. Kiley Davis said that, as her sister was still at Coastal when she committed, it was a non-factor in the decision.
Kiley said there was a mutual respect between the sisters in the decision, and Ali said the last thing she wanted was to influence where Kiley went to school.
“I wanted her to make her own choice based on what she wanted for school and lacrosse,” Ali Davis said. “It’s nice to go to school with your sister but I didn’t want to be the sole reason she went. Me transferring happened, so I didn’t want her to be unhappy. It’s a really good fit for her and she’s going to be super amazing.”
Plenty of Pinkerton players will stay in New England in the future, but don’t be surprised if more Astros make the trek to the Carolinas or beyond, as Drouin, who helps coach Pinkerton’s class of 2021 in the offseason, said she’s been offering her two cents to the players regarding their futures.